Back to Top Skip to main content

Women's Health Month: Take ownership of health, wellness issues

Navy Cmdr. Francesca Cimino, M.D. (standing) confers with a colleague in the Family Medicine department at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. (Courtesy photo) Navy Cmdr. Francesca Cimino, M.D. (standing) confers with a colleague in the Family Medicine department at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Women's Health

EDITOR’S NOTE: October is Women’s Health Month, an opportunity to increase awareness about health issues important to women throughout their lifetime such as heart disease, breast and ovarian cancers, stroke, diabetes and chronic lower respiratory diseases, among other illnesses. This month, Health.mil will focus on the importance of recognizing the health and medical needs of women who are part of the DoD community, addressing preventable health concerns and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among women and girls in the DoD community. 

This month’s first article, by Cmdr. Francesca Ciminio, M.D., a family physician and Assistant Professor at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., emphasizes small things that you can do to maintain health and fitness to live a healthy life.


October marks Women's Health Month, an opportunity for the Military Health System to increase awareness among female beneficiaries about important health and wellness issues that span a lifetime.

As an experienced family physician, I know, in the MHS, we have a receptive audience. Women are significantly more likely than men to make and keep appointments with their health care providers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey.

Many of these appointments are for routine screenings: mammograms to check for breast cancer, Pap tests to detect cervical cancer. These are important, of course. Thanks to improvements in detection and treatment, more and more breast cancer patients are becoming breast cancer survivors. And U.S. cervical cancer survival rates are among the highest in the world.

But women's health encompasses more than these preventive cancer screenings. Did you know the No. 1 killer of women is heart disease? The American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 identifies seven risk factors that women as well as men can improve though lifestyle changes to achieve ideal cardiovascular health.

Managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar – all of these actions matter. And they're as vital to long-term health and longevity as cancer screenings. Now that I've gotten older, I'm particularly cognizant that as we age, heart disease becomes more of an issue. Damage accumulates over time.

Excess weight also has been linked to heart disease. I know some women find tackling this issue particularly daunting. CDC statistics show that more women than men are obese, and that women are more likely to become obese as we age. (About 36.5 percent of women ages 20-39, and 44.7 percent of women ages 40-59, are obese. These figures compare to 34.8 percent of men ages 20-39, and 40.8 percent of men ages 40-59.)

A small weight loss may not necessarily get you to a healthy body mass index, but it can play a role in overall longevity. Losing even 5 pounds can be exponentially beneficial in terms of how it can improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease.

One tip is to cut added sugar from your diet. The Food and Drug Administration has updated its guidelines to suggest no more than 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugars. The FDA also updated the nutrition labeling on food packages to help us keep track of this amount in packaged products.

It's amazing how quickly added sugar accumulates. It shows up in the sneakiest places, including ketchup, salad dressing, canned soups, even your favorite "nutrition" bar. Be a smart shopper and read the label -- especially because there are, literally, dozens of different names for sugar on nutrition labels.

Many women are aware of the AHA's recommendation for 150 minutes weekly of aerobic activity. I'd like to encourage you to think about making physical activity an everyday part of life, and not something to accomplish only during dedicated workouts. If your schedule precludes you from spending 30 minutes on an elliptical machine or stationary bike on any given day, all is not lost. Make a daily habit of climbing the stairs instead of riding the elevator, and parking your car further from your destination so you can get a few more steps in.

All movement matters. According to a Harvard study, simply being more mindful of how movement adds up to exercise helped hotel maids lose weight and improve their blood pressure.

Finally, I'd like to encourage you to be your own best advocate when it comes to health and wellness. For example, urinary incontinence comes up frequently when I ask my patients about it, but patients have sometimes been reluctant to be the first to broach the topic. Incontinence may be normal for women who've experienced childbirth, but that doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to it. It's treatable. So are problems associated with sex and comfort, interest, pain, and pleasure.

Mental health is another topic to bring up with your health care provider. Research has shown that hormonal changes at three stages of a woman's life—puberty, post-pregnancy, and during perimenopause—may trigger clinical depression. You don't need to suffer in silence.

The MHS provides a variety of programs, resources, and tools to maintain and improve the health of our female warfighters and beneficiaries. During Women's Health Month and indeed, any other time, let us know how we can help you.

You also may be interested in...

Zapping mosquitoes from the inside out

Article
7/29/2019
While chemical mosquito population control measures have been used with some degree of success, they are toxic to other insect populations and to the health of humans. A different angle of defense has emerged, which is genetic modification of the mosquito itself, making it transgenic. Transgenic mosquitoes are unable to transmit a pathogen, such as malaria, due to their altered genetic makeup. (DoD photo)

Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying at summer barbecues. In many parts of the world, they carry pathogens for Zika, dengue, yellow fever and malaria, the most devastating of mosquito-borne diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 440,000 people died in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 from malaria, contracted from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Protecting U.S. military personnel who continue to serve in this part of world is critical.

Recommended Content:

Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Zika Virus | Preventing Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Preventive Health | Innovation | Medical Research and Development | Deployment Health

Report on Rate of Maternal Mortality Among Members of the Armed Forces

Congressional Testimony
7/10/2019

H.R. 5515, NDAA Conference Report for FY 2019, 115-874, Pg. 861

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Men’s preventive health screenings essential for readiness and a lifetime of good health

Article
6/27/2019
Hospitalman Payton Dupuis, a native of Mill City, Oregon, checks veteran Joseph Levette’s blood pressure at Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s internal medicine clinic. “Men’s health is a vital part of the mission,” stated Dupuis. “We need a healthy workforce to succeed.” (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

An apple a day helps, too

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health

Sexually transmitted infections on the rise in military

Article
6/26/2019
Some sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in the military. To increase awareness, members of Team McConnell attend a briefing on STIs at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick)

What you need to know to stay safe

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Men's Health | Women's Health

Mail-in colon cancer screening may end colonoscopy for most

Article
6/19/2019
Army Medicine logo

The best test is the one the patient will do

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health | Women's Health

DHA PI 6200.02: Comprehensive Contraceptive Counseling and Access to the Full Range of Methods of Contraception

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), in accordance with the requirements of References (c) through (i), and the guidance of References (j) through (v), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for comprehensive standards on healthcare with respect to access to comprehensive contraceptive counseling and the full range of contraceptive methods for members of the Armed Forces and all eligible beneficiaries of the Military Health System (MHS).

  • Identification #: 6200.02
  • Date: 5/13/2019
  • Type: DHA Procedural Instruction
  • Topics: Women's Health

Mother's Day a chance to highlight care in the Military Health System

Article
5/8/2019
The Nunns with daughter Sabella and son Gideon. (Courtesy file photo)

The Military Health System helps deliver more than 100,000 babies each year

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Children's Health | Women's Health

TRICARE Maternity Policy Changes 2019

Infographic
4/10/2019
This infographic discusses updates to TRICARE's maternity benefits

This infographic discusses updates to TRICARE's maternity benefits

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health

Is exercise that’s too intensive resulting in your angina?

Article
4/8/2019
Navy Hospitalman Kiana Bartonsmith checks a patient’s heart rate at Naval Branch Health Clinic Kings Bay in Georgia, one of Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s six health care facilities. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

Angina is experienced as a feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest that can also radiate out to your neck, jaw, back or shoulders

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Heart Health | Preventive Health

Mobile app aids ‘truly informed’ contraception conversations between patients, providers

Article
3/11/2019
A new app provides information about contraception with the goal of helping patients make informed decisions with their providers. The app includes a module to address the unique needs of servicewomen around deployment. (Photo by Sgt. Barry St. Clair)

Decide + Be Ready, an app that provides information on contraception for men and women, is designed to help patients make informed decisions with their providers. The app also includes a module to address the unique needs of service women around deployment and duties.

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Women's Health | Technology

Sudden cardiac death in young athletes

Article
3/7/2019
High school basketball requires skill and rigorous training. In rare but highly publicized cases, it can also bring cardiac issues to the surface. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Gannon)

Sudden cardiac events can occur in seemingly healthy young people in their teens or twenties, including young servicemembers

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Heart Health | Preventive Health

Taking care of your heart with TRICARE benefits

Article
2/19/2019
February is nationally recognized as American Heart Month, a time for the Department of Defense community to show its love for healthy living.

Getting preventive screenings now could save your life tomorrow

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Preventive Health

Stroke prevention awareness

Article
2/4/2019
Stroke prevention awareness graphic (U.S. Air Force graphic)

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

TRICARE Preventive Services

Video
1/14/2019
TRICARE Preventive Services

Watch this video to learn more about all the preventive services your TRICARE benefit covers.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Preventive Health

'Fused' technologies give 3D view of prostate during biopsy

Article
1/9/2019
Eisenhower Army Medical Center graphic

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Military Hospitals and Clinics | Preventive Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 6

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.